This article appeared on today's Los Angeles Times front page. I thought to pass it around.
Here is a link that might be useful: LA Times front page story
Yes, we've been following the HLB discovery in Hacienda Heights over on the Citrus Forum. Very sad, but not unexpected. And, this article speaks to the exact fear from the folks at UC Riverside Citrus Variety Collection - when it's discovered, most likely it will be in someone's backyard. The commercial growers have been spraying for the ACP for some time, now, so the CDFA and USDA figured that it would appear in a backyard tree. And, so it has. And most likely, the grafted Chinese pommelo was the culprit. I think what upsets me so much about this, is China has had HLB for decades. The person who grafted the citrus tree had to know how fatal the disease is (if you have the skill to graft citrus, you are most certainly knowledgeable about the dangers of smuggling in citrus from China). How could someone knowing this, and in my mind, if you're able to graft citrus, you're most definitely "in the know" about the dangers of HLB, how could someone with this level of understanding and knowledge still think it was okay to smuggle in the scionwood?? Just very upsetting. The state of Florida's commercial citrus industry has lost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the devastating consequences of HLB. I'm hoping that California is more proactive in their containment of this disease, or not only will our commercial citrus industry be as risk, so will all our lovely backyard citrus trees. I have over 50 citrus trees on my property, I could suffer a substantial loss myself. I'm just sick about this, but, it was inevitable. When I took my "Citrus in the Garden" class this last February at UC Riverside Extension, the professors and researchers said they knew HLB was here because the ACP was here, it was just a matter of finding it. And since over 90% of all citrus trees in the state of California reside in someone's backyard, the chance of HLB starting in a backyard, was excellent. So, here we are.
It's just terrible and such a worry. To me it just seems impossible to stop because if they find one psyllid, there have to be more that were not found. Patty, you must feel sick about this, and I'm so sorry.
Is there an answer? More spraying?
I am. It may spell the demise of backyard citrus in California. Our commercial growers will suffer but will survive due to commercial lessons learned from the commercial Florida industry. But backyard growers are not spraying their trees to prevent psyllids. And yes, the problem is in the fact that an infected tree will not show signs of illness for about 2 years. But it has been infectious for that entire time, so all it takes is a psyllid to land on that tree, pick up the disease, then travel somewhere else. The CDFA and USDA are working hard to test as many trees as they possibly can in the quarantined area, but with the number of backyard trees here in California, it is really an impossible job.
Here's an article from the LA Times. The fellow interviewed happens to be the CRFG Foothill Chapter president, and he is expressing all of us citrus hobbists' fears. The era of backyard California citrus may be one for the history books.
Here is a link that might be useful: LA Times: Citrus Greening Threatens California Trees
More spraying is very unlikely to help. Unlike the medfly outbreak years back, the citrus psyllid already has a toehold and in any case the political consequences of a spray program like that instituted in this day and age would be... profound.
Another issue is that the actual spread of the disease is far greater than the apparent spread of the disease. A significant period of time passes between a plant becoming a disease carrier and actually showing symptoms. On top of that, the disease spread requires a very low pest density. All it takes is one psyllid and one infected plant to perpetuate the cycle.
What is recommended for a backyard gardener in a non-quanantine area to do, proactively, at this point? I'm not going to buy or graft any trees this year, nor do I plan to visit any backyards in the quarantine area. How about spraying to control psyllaids? Any thoughts?
Ryan, spraying will only help to control the ACP. And yes, as I mentioned in my previous post, the problem with HLB is the 2 year period from infection to symptom display. By then, any psyllid that visits that tree can become a vector and spread it to the next tree. However, spraying for right now is the only control method I am aware of. And, what Florida did NOT do, was develop a backyard control program. This was one of the "lessons learned", and in retrospect, the folks in Florida felt if there had been more controls or spraying programs in backyards, the commercial growers may not have suffered such devastating losses. It may not be PC, but if it takes aerial spraying to help control the spread in backyards, it will be done. There is just too much money at stake in the California commercial citrus industry to have happen here, what happened in Florida.
I will be sitting on a panel tomorrow evening at my local CRFG chapter meeting along with Dr. Allan Dodds, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside. Dr. Dodds will be addressing the recent discovery of HLB in California, and what measures backyard citrus growers can do to help protect their citrus. I do not believe the CDFA have any guidelines posted as of yet, for backyard citrus growers, but no doubt they are being formulated and will be published very shortly. I can share suggestions from Dr. Dodds as to what we can do to help protect our own citrus.
I think the very frustrating part for me as a nurse, is that researchers have not been able to find a cure for the disease, itself, after all these years. It must be very frustrating for the researchers.
Hmmm, p.c.reactions to pesticide spraying? As a parent of a kid with ADHD, I'm way beyond unhappy about all the linkages that have been discovered between organophosphate pesticides and ADHD.
I'll fight aerial spraying in my neighborhood in SLA tooth and nail, although I'd support targeted spraying and eradication of infected trees. I'd rather see the entire neighborhood's citrus clearcut first than see aerial spraying over the tens of thousands of people in the few square miles around me being poisoned on behalf of CA agriculture. Expect the environmental justice NGOs to feel the same.
Here is a link that might be useful: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure
Yeah, widespread spraying is bad policy. Hunt them down door-to-door.
Spraying for mosquitos just caused sudden die-off of millions of bees in FL. A lot more than the citrus industry will be hurting when the bees are gone.
Patty, keep us posted. I have friends in Ojai where many, many homes have citrus trees in their yards in addition to local orchards, and although there should be plenty of info there, I'll be sure to pass along anything I learn here.
We're discussing this in-depth over on the Citrus Forum, socks. I've put up a couple of very informative posts there for folks to read. There are some great links I've provided, as well as a link to an iPhone app that will help folks stay informed.
OK, thank you!
I know many of you here in California are very concerned about the discovery of HLB here in Orange County/Los Angeles County area. I wanted to share with you Dr. Dodd's presentation on HLB that was given at our local N. San Diego Chapter of the CRFG meeting last Friday evening. We taped it and it's on YouTube for you to view. He is very informative, and knows just about all of the researchers around the world involved in trying to come up with a cure or treatment. In fact, one of the leading researchers at Texas A&M was one of his past grad students. Here you go.
Here is a link that might be useful: N. San Diego CRFG: Dr. Dodds Presents HLB Overview
I saw one of the ACPs on a yellow sticky trap at a CDFA exhibit mixed in with a bunch of other bugs, and for the life of me I don't know how they'd spot it; it was the size of a whitefly, but more transparent. They say the little buggers have a range of six miles too.
There are so many citrus trees in back yards, tucked into evey forgotten corner behind overgrown Mulberry trees, sooner or later one will get infected. I hate to be a pessimist, but I think we're doomed.
Maybe my focusing on apples in So. Calif. was a weird coincidence- I don't think it will ever replace our citrus industry though.